How to Avoid Single-Use Straws

Some of the most prevalent pieces of litter I tend to find on cleanups are plastic straws and straw wrappers, going along with the rest of the fast-food trash tossed out the window. Since straws and wrappers are so small, they are easily washed into storm drains and then our waterways. Very much a single-use item, we use 500,000,000 straws every day, on average, according to the National Park Service.

So, let's talk about reducing straw waste. There are two easy options:
  • Refuse straws
  • Carry reusable straws

Seriously. That easy.

When you order your coffee, ask the barista not to give you a straw. When you order at a restaurant, ask not to be given a straw. At the gym, skip the straw for your water cup.

If you prefer to drink with a straw, or your children need straws, invest in a set of reusable straws. Made of food grade stainless steel, glass, or BPA-free silicone, the straws can be reused countless times and carried with you so you're always prepared. While I'm personally a fan of stainless steel, the silicone options are proooobably a little safer for the kids, from a safety standpoint. If you're even a little clumsy, don't go for the glass straws.

When you choose a set of straws, make sure to get one that comes with a tiny brush, to keep the insides clear of gross stuff. Stainless steel straws are also dishwasher safe.

I admit, I'm super late to the get on the reusable straw train. I don't use straws at home or at the gym in general, but at restaurants, they would've come in handy a long time ago. I've had my set for a few weeks now, and I'm happy with the assortment I picked up - four bent ones for regular use, a tall one for larger mugs, and a wider one for thicker drinks.

Another bonus to stainless steel is that your cold drink stays cold all the way through the straw! I'll do a little field research to let y'all know how much better a margarita tastes through a stainless steel straw and report right back.

My next step is to find a convenient carrying case for the straws, so I can keep them protected in my bag without making a ton of noise everywhere I go.

And of course, sometimes, there are drawbacks. I was recently out for a group lunch, and the waiter put a handful of wrapped straws on the table. I had a reusable straw with me, so I gave the waiter mine and asked him to take it back because I didn't need it. He didn't want to take it back, saying something about how the restaurant wasn't worried about wasting a straw from a financial standpoint. So, I kept it and put it in our break room at work for someone to use.

If you still prefer to use plastic straws, do us a solid and don't litter them along the roadway or in parks, or anywhere.

Have you made the switch to reusable straws? How do you deal with restaurant servers automatically providing straws for the whole table?

Eco Cycle - Be Straw Free Campaign
The Last Plastic Straw
Choose to Go Strawless

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